St. Matthew 22:34-46 The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity / Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 2016 A.D.
Passage: Matthew 22:34–46
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
If you can’t see Christ in the Old Testament, you can’t understand the Old Testament. From Genesis to Malachi every Book points to Christ. It describes Christ, it promises Christ, it is full of Christ.
A Pharisee, a lawyer, an expert in the Scriptures, when he hears that the Sadducees were silenced by Jesus, poses a question. It is a question based in the Law. His question is revealing. He seeks to rank the Commandments of God. Perhaps there was a contemporary argument about which Commandment was greatest that he sought to answer. Perhaps he really wondered which was the greatest. Perhaps he was simply trying to lay a trap for the Christ. The Scripture is clear - the lawyer wanted to test Jesus.
The Lord’s answer shows that the lawyer knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. The man who had made his career out of interpreting the Scriptures didn’t understand the most fundamental Truth of the Scriptures. Giving answer, the One who gave the Law summarizes the Law - with love. Love for God. Love for neighbor. Both Tablets of Stone are satisfied by love. Against love there is no Law.
In return the Lord asks them a question. Whose Son is the Christ? The Scriptures are clear – He is the Son of David. They are correct. But there is more, much more, and in what remains is the Truth they could not see.
So the Lord cites a Psalm of David: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My Right Hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” These inspired Words, given to David by the Holy Spirit, record God calling David’s Son Lord. David calls his own Son “Lord”. To worship a human son is a violation of the First Commandment. And it is a violation of the Fourth Commandment, since the Son must honor His Father.
The simple Word of Scripture stops the lawyer in his tracks. He cannot give answer, because he cannot see Christ. He cannot see Him in the Old Testament. He cannot see Him standing before him. He is caught. Trying to test the Lord, he is silenced. The expert in the Scriptures cannot respond. And so it is with every sinful man. The Word of God, His Holy Law, leaves you without excuse.
Those Commandments scribed in stone by the fiery Finger of God silence every man. They are clear, plain Words, Words easy to understand. And yet each Word of the Decalogue you have broken. And to break any of God’s Commands is to break all of them. But most importantly, every sin is a violation of the First Commandment.
Disrespect, anger, lust, jealousy, pride, suspicion, dislike, gossip, hatred for others, they all break the Commandments of the Second Table, because they are the opposite of love for neighbor. And you must confess, if you’re honest, that you have done each of these: Disrespect, anger, lust, jealousy, pride, suspicion, dislike, gossip, hatred. And if you can’t love your neighbor who you do see, how can you love God Who you cannot see?
So the Word of God is clear, simple and plain. But you stand before the Holy Law of God, with that embarrassed, dumbstruck lawyer, unable to answer. You have sinned.
But there is an answer. The answer is Christ. He is the answer to sin. He is the answer to disrespect, to anger, lust, jealousy, pride, suspicion, dislike, gossip, and hatred. He is the answer because He is David’s Son and David’s Lord. The proper understanding of the Psalm is that David’s Son is God. Christ is the answer because it is Christ that fulfills the Law.
He is the center of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. He is the answer that the lawyer could not give. Love Incarnate stood before them. The fulfillment of the Old Testament was there. The fulfillment of all Prophecy was there.
The Seed Promised to Adam and Eve, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of Isaac, the Seed of Jacob, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Shiloh, David’s Son, Solomon’s Son, the Wisdom of God became Man to save you. He is the answer to the Law’s accusations. He is the answer to sin. He is the answer to death.
In perfect love for you, God became your neighbor. God became your brother to die for you. In His sinless conception, His miraculous birth, His perfect life, in His holy innocent suffering and death, He loved God perfectly, and He loved His neighbor as Himself. Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends. He is Love incarnate. And against love there is no Law.
As miraculous as what He did is, it avails you nothing until it is applied to you. In love, in the same love that moved God to become Man for you, the God who died and rose for you makes His perfect righteousness yours. It is washed into you in the Miracle of the Font. There all your sins are forgiven, and there you are filled with the same Spirit that gave David the Words to write.
There the Lord of Love gives you faith, faith to trust in Him, faith to see Him in every Scripture, faith that receives His Gifts. So David’s Son, David’s Lord, is your Lord. His perfect fulfillment of the Law is made yours. He stands before God the Father and gives answer for you.
The fulfillment of the Commandments is love. For the Decalogue describes Christ. He had no other Gods. He blessed the Name of the Lord, He never took it in vain, for He is that Holy Name, the Great I AM, the Name into which you are baptized. He kept the Sabbath perfectly, as He lay motionless in the tomb, a perfect rest for all men of all times.
He honored His Father, confessing Him and trusting in Him even while being forsaken by Him. And He honored His mother, providing for her even in His death. He did not murder, but suffered Himself to be murdered. He was perfectly chaste, He did not steal but rather He freely gave, His witness was Truth, that all witness against you be silenced, He coveted nothing but forsook everything for you. He kept both tables of the Law perfectly, that in Him the Law cannot condemn you.
Love is the fulfillment of the Law. And in love the same Christ that redeemed you feeds you this day. He bids you eat His Body. He pours His Blood into you. He pours His life into you. He pours His love into you.
So the Apostle’s Promise is a Promise for you: The testimony of Christ is confirmed in you. And Christ will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ your Lord. The answer, dear Christian, is Christ.